07/16/2012 12:08 pm ET Updated Oct 11, 2012

Madonna & Michelle Obama's Bare Arms Inspired Me To Wear A Tank Top

I wore a tank top today. While that may not seem to be noteworthy, if I add that I am 50 years old, than the fact that I wore a tank top, in public, becomes significant. Most women start to cover their upper arms when they turn 30. I certainly did, feeling that no matter how young the rest of me looked, flabby underarms would be a giveaway that I was not only out of shape, but old.

The exceptions to this rule are either those women who spend 10 hours a week lifting weights, (Madonna and Michelle Obama come to mind), or extraordinarily age-defying like Helen Mirren. That is a pretty short list. I can't think of any other examples. Why do you think the bolero was invented? And summer shawls? And Queen Elizabeth's entire wardrobe? Every well-dressed woman of a certain age knows the first rule of fashion (which is coincidentally the same rule for battle): Hide your weak spots.

My decision to bare arms came about because of several factors: 1) a week of 90 degree+ weather that made the idea of sleeves untenable, 2) a lack of clean tee shirts (see #1, I had to conserve my energy) and 3) the realization that no one cares what my arms look like, including me. The fourth reason is probably the most important: I have been working out 10 hours a week, lifting weights and sweating, and while my arms don't have the skeletal musculature of Madonna's, or the tone of Michelle's, they don't look half bad.

The exercise regime happened by mistake. I have been a regular gym goer for years. I would stroll on the treadmill catching up on my reading and then spend a few minutes stretching. Naturally this had no impact on my muscle tone, although it did wonders for my sense of smugness. And then one day, my son watched me "working out" and then casually informed me, "You know, you are supposed to sweat." You would have thought that I did know that, but until he mentioned it, it never really occurred to me that I could, or should. Knowing that I could not trust myself to push myself, I began going to exercise classes the gym offered -- first one a week, because it took me a full week to recover, than a couple of times a week, and now I am addicted. I don't even bring a book any more. I am now up to the 10 hours a week that allow me to bare all. Well, at least my upper arms. I can't imagine how many more hours of work I would need to show any more. I am open to suggestions. Any hints, Madonna?

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Arm and Ab Workout